On the Right Track

In the beginning, there was the tracksuit.

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For Taylor and Skaist-Levy, it was a whole other dimension, too.

“Without that kind of financial backing, a company like ours — which was quadrupling its growth annually — would’ve never been able to do what we can now,” continued Taylor.

Right now, nine years since its inception, the brand is approaching $500 million in sales in its quest to reach the billion-dollar mark, as reported. It has mounted massive product expansion, including a Juicy Couture eyewear line, licensed to Safilo — ranking in sales behind Chanel and Gucci; Juicy Couture footwear, licensed to Schwartz & Benjamin; 17 freestanding signature stores in coming months, including four in New York, a flagship in Tokyo, three in Europe and a flagship in San Francisco this fall; and a Juicy Couture fragrance and baby line due in the second half of the year.

In Europe, the brand has a site in Milan on the Via de la Spiga, and is on the hunt for locations in Paris and London.

Among other cities, as reported, retail space has been secured in Atlantic City, N.J.; Boston; Scottsdale, Ariz.; Malibu, Newport Beach and Santa Barbara, Calif.; Orlando and Coral Gables, Fla.; San Antonio; Oyster Bay, N.Y., and in the Ala Moana and Royal Hawaiian shopping centers in Waikiki. In addition, a second site in San Francisco has been selected. In all, the Juicy brand could exceed 250 to 300 stores, according to Trudy Sullivan, executive vice president of Claiborne.

Also new to higher-end retail doors this season is the extension of the founders’ vision into the designer category with Couture Couture. The collection launched this spring with items such as jewel-speckled dresses. The average retail price for Couture Couture is $680, compared with Juicy Couture’s $180 retail tag.

This is no vanity project, either, they insisted. “Everything we do is to elevate the brand,” said Skaist-Levy. “Claiborne thought it was important for our brand, too.…well, after a little convincing.”

From the start and through today, Juicy’s m.o. remains the same, and its parent company appears to do everything to preserve that: “Gela and I create what we want to wear and what we want to own,” continued Skaist-Levy. “That formula works. Claiborne recognizes it. It’s a large business now, but from the creative end, it still feels like it was when we started. We still keep it very personal and very real. Claiborne totally let us be. We’re completely Juicy.”

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